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How Many Muscles Does a Cat Have in Each Ear? What You Need to Know!

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

close up of a cat's ear

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

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Cat’s ears are adorable! Have you ever wondered how cats’ ears work? They seem to swivel around on their heads independently, so they must have special features, right? The truth is that a cat’s ears work like our ears do, but they have many more muscles inside them. In fact, there are more than 29 muscles found in each ear! Keep reading to learn more.

The Number of Muscles in a Cat’s Ear

There is a total of 32 individual muscles that are responsible for the movement of a cat’s ear. Each ear can move independently of one another and can move in different directions simultaneously. Their ears are capable of pivoting about 180 degrees around in either direction. The ears on a cat typically stand erect and rarely fold over as a dog does. Only rare breeds, such as the Scottish Fold, have floppy ears that fold down.

A cat’s ears can be observed rotating to the side and behind them when they hear unknown sounds. The ears may also fold backward while hissing or playing. They can also point back while moving their bodies forward.

cat angry
Image Credit: Fang_Y_M, Pixabay

The Structural Components of a Cat’s Ear

There are three structural components of a cat’s ear: the outer section, the middle section, and the inner section. The outer ear, also referred to as the pinna, is the section of the ear that protrudes from the cat’s body. This part of the ear catches sound waves and directs the waves into the ear canal, where they travel to the middle ear component.

The middle ear components vibrate as the sound waves travel through to the inner ear, where the vibrations are perceived and sent to the auditory system. From there, the auditory system translates the sound waves to the brain and allows the cat to make sense of the sounds they are hearing.

The Effectiveness of a Cat’s Hearing

Cats have fantastic hearing. They can hear low octaves about as well as humans can, but they can hear higher-pitched noises much better than we can. They can even hear higher-pitched sounds than dogs can. Therefore, you can expect that whatever you can hear, your cat can hear too. On the other hand, your cat can probably hear things that you can’t, so if they seemingly head to a window to see what is outside, there might be something out there that you should check out too.

Unfortunately, white cats are susceptible to deafness. Some are born deaf, while others develop deafness as they age. Not all white cats have to deal with deafness, but up to 20% of white cats are born deaf. The number is even higher for white cats with blue eyes! Up to 40% of white cats with one blue eye are born deaf, while up to 85% of white cats with two blue eyes are born deaf.

Some white cats are deaf in both ears, but many are deaf in only one ear. Cats that are completely deaf make excellent pets, but they must be kept inside the home and in areas where they don’t require auditory signals to stay safe.

side view of a cat's face
Image Credit: Pixabay, Pexels

Some Final Comments

Cats have cute ears, but they are not only there for our pleasure. They serve to keep cats safe from threats, like stray dogs and passing vehicles. They also allow us to effectively communicate with them, hence how they learn to come when we call them. However, speech is not the only way we can communicate with our cats, such as through touch and body language, which is what makes deaf kitties great pets.

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Featured Image Credit: invitacionestan27, Pixabay

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

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Rachael has been a freelance writer since 2000, in which time she has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens. She is an artist at heart and loves...Read more

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